We are happy all the time
Even when we fight:
Sweet briars of the stairways,
Gay fairies of the grime;
We, who are playing to-night.

“Our feet are in the gutters,
Our eyes are sore with dust,
But still our eyes are bright.
The wide street roars and mutters –
We know it works because it must –
We, who are playing to-night!

“Dirt is everlasting. – We never, never fear it.
Toil is never ceasing. – We will play until we near it.
Tears are never ending. – When once real tears have come;

“When we see our people as they are –
Our fathers – broken, dumb –

Our mothers – broken, dumb –
The weariest of women and of men;
Ah – then our eyes will lose their light –
Then we will never play again –
We, who are playing to-night.”

Analysis, meaning and summary of Vachel Lindsay's poem Sweet Briars of the Stairways

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